WHOMP. That's the sound of the wind being knocked out of the Seattle Sounders, who took a gut punch from Dallas with another dreadful start to a road match. Losing by a score line of 0-2 against FC Dallas was rough, but what's worse is the doubts that have plagued this team all season were back in full force following the loss. Seattle boasts the second best defense in the league, but it's an increasingly anemic offense that was the story here. Failing to score on multiple great first half chances doomed the team, and the second half was a practice in futility as Seattle couldn't figure out how to break through the home team.
Stefan Frei - 8 MOTM | Community - 7.3 MOTM
Another MOTM performance by the keeper in a losing effort. Frei has been great this year, continually keeping his team in game after game, but at some point he needs to get more goal support.
In the 2nd minute Frei stopped a point blank header from Ryan Hollingshead, diving quickly to his left, and was unfortunate that the poor clearance/ensuing scrum resulted in a penalty against. Five PKs against us in ten games is too many! It's the most in the league and it shows that the defense, while very strong in goals against average, is doing something wrong to concede penalties.
Stefan was exceptionally aggressive off his line against the speedy Dallas, coming well out in the 33rd to make a great play in front of Michael Barrios. Again in the 40th he stopped Victor Ulloa who was through, prompting a clearance outside of the 18-yard box. His best clearance was a flying scissor kick from 30 yards out to prevent Tesho Akindele in the 43rd.
Stefan had a few early clearances that were short and to the middle, and I thought he made one particularly bad choice (37th) to try to force a long throw to Dempsey in a crowd. Seattle was under quite a bit of pressure at the time, and Frei should have calmed the game down and found a higher percentage play. Other than that, Frei was strong 3 more times off the line, stopping Akindele and Barrios twice more before the 60th minute. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to stop the one actual shot that Dallas put on goal, the 80th minute back breaker. Strong game from the goalie that still ends up in a tough road loss.
Joevin Jones - 6 | Community - 5.8
As a player who has the pace to stick with Fabian Castillo on the wing, I hoped Jones would really shine. I came away with mixed reviews, however. More than anything else I was surprised at how massively high the Sounders fullbacks both played. With three deeper midfielders in front of the center backs they were needed for width, but I question the disconnect between wide and central players on the back line.
As a benefit of playing so high, Jones was active throughout in the attack, starting with a good 11th minute move and cross into the box. Five minutes later Dempsey put a tremendous pass into his overlapping run and Jones forced just enough of a save from Chris Seitz to deny the Sounders an early equalizer.
The defensive side of the ball was again a mixed bag for Jones. He tried to step up to trap Barrios in the 33rd and only a courageous Frei thwarted a breakaway for Dallas when the trap failed. Jones did redeem himself with a tracking run on Barrios in the 59th that showed some defensive mettle, and multiple times the FC Dallas attack was unable to gain momentum due to good positioning from the left side of defense.
There were numerous times in this game that Jones could have been more goal-direct. SHOOT THE BALL! In the 66th he chose to cross, and after a give and go in the 90th he looked to have a clear chance to put a shot on goal and hesitated. I would like to see him be a bit greedier. Shots from that angle are tough to control, and we have the personnel to feast on rebounds.
Chad Marshall - 5 | Community - 5.2
I am not sure how to rate the defense against Dallas, because frankly I am not sure how good Dallas is. They seem to be very strong at home and put the Seattle defense on alert all game. Marshall started off horribly, first being beat by Akindele's speed and then pulling Walker Zimmerman down in the box in only the 2nd minute. While many refs let things go early in games, it's hard not to penalize Chad who had a good handful of jersey there. I am not sure how dangerous the Dallas defender is in the box even if he does manage to control that touch. That is two unnecessary penalties committed by Marshall this year and his decision making in the box is beginning to be suspect. Chad makes so many good plays during a game that it's hard to begrudge him some physical play, but this must be the last PK he commits.
After the horrible start Chad settled down and turned in a decent performance, highlighted by a 25th minute sliding save against Castillo. It was fun to see Marshall toy with Barrios, using his body and size to dominate the diminutive opponent on multiple occasions. In the 39th he made a nice forward pass to Friberg, but there wasn't enough quality distribution from the back in this game to circumvent a stagnant middle of the pitch. Late in the game Marshall committed an unnecessary foul on Hollingshead that gave a dangerous free kick, and he missed badly with an open header in the 85th. Not a great performance from the big guy.
Brad Evans - 6 | Community - 5.7
Brad was an average player on the night, showing the pace that was lacking from our playoff first leg defense last season and being willing to chase and body up the Dallas attack. I was happy to see him up to the challenge. When presented with Castillo 1v1 in the 12th it was Evans who shut down his opponent. Just like with Marshall there wasn't a lot of opportunity for incisive passing from the back, but Brad did find Morris in the 27th on a pass that skipped the midfield and put Jordan in a good attacking position.
Michael Barrios was a consistent thorn in the defense and in the 6th minute he beat Evans into the box and of course caught the entire defense flatfooted for a goal in the 80th. Brad was the closest defender and while he closed ably and cut some angle, he was caught out by a tremendous Mauro Rosales pass. One concern with the central defense in this game was their penchant for chasing too far up the field and getting pulled way out of position. With the defensive mids in front of him, there was no real reason for Evans to try to deny pass completions over the midfield stripe. Evans was forced into desperation slide tackles too often for my taste, and will need to stay tighter with his backline to prevent being pulled from position as much.
Tyrone Mears - 6 | Community - 5.3
I was surprised to see that Mears occupied a higher position on the pitch than his fullback counterpart Jones. He wasn't given the slick through balls that Joevin was, but he still managed to be a better attacking player at times against Dallas that lends small hope that he can continue to add a bit more width to the right side offense.
In the 34th Tyrone found himself inside the box and made a nice pass directly into the six and a dangerous spot. In the 50th it was again an aggressive Mears who attacked the goal on the dribble and found huge space after passing one man. I hope this wakes him up to the fact that indeed, he can beat people off the dribble and be an asset in the attack. Even this small foray forward was a huge improvement from taking the air out of the ball, and passing back to Evans continuously. A few minutes later he put in a great cross that barely missed connecting with a charging Dempsey, and then in the 75th he again found the Sounders DP with a slick forward pass into the box.
Tyrone was less impressive in defense. In minute two he lost his mark (Hollingshead) on the corner and only heroics from Frei stopped a set piece goal. In the 11th he lost possession very easily, and Castillo was frequently able to round him. In the 40th he put a cross-field pass on defense that was simply awful and without the quick skill of Alonso would have been a disaster.
Mears was tasked with the difficult job of containing the Dallas wings and for the most part did an ok job but needed a lot of help that forced the midfield deeper. He showed some more attacking desire that is a much needed change. I hope to see him continue to press without chunking needless crosses in this weekend's game.
Osvaldo Alonso - 6 | Community - 6.2
Alonso had a whopping 121 touches and was a main reason that Dallas was unable to overrun the middle of the field. Both outside wings pinched in and it was Alonso who was rubbing elbows with Castillo and Barrios often, as well as battling with Diaz in the middle. 90% passing with that much possession was stellar, but much of it was short and to the wings. Dallas really limited Alonso's ability to switch the point of attack from side to side by pressing high with numbers.
Alonso started out very frustrated with Roldan, and it wasn't until the 30th minute that I tracked him getting into the attack at all. Ozzie was quite demonstrably upset with those around him, waving his arms and gesticulating angrily on multiple occasions. He did much of the dirty work throughout, like his recovery in the 37th after Roldan was beat and a quick-thinking save of a poor Mears pass in the 40th. Alonso even turned this last event into a rare attacking pass forward to Morris. Quick counters were few and far between however, and Dallas pressed immediately upon any change of possession.
Alonso was pressured into many mistakes against Dallas, first in the 8th losing the ball in a bad spot and in the 12th passing to where Roldan should have been. The biggest blemish on his evening came in the 58th when he completely missed the backside run of Barrios, in a play reminiscent of his poor defending on Chris Wondolowski last week. This has to be better.
Sunday's was an average performance that would have been improved by Ozzie being more in tune with his midfield partners. It is frustrating that when the team changes even one player, everyone else around him plays like they have never met or played with them.
Cristian Roldan - 4 | Community - 5.0 (off 77')
Roldan was a mess in this one. For the first 20 minutes he was completely lost, allowing runners behind him, not moving to space to offer attractive passes from teammates, and missing tackles. His movement was especially rough on Alonso, who was quite obviously upset with the young Sounder.
The list of failings was long, ranging from putting Mears into a hole with a bad pass in the 11th to being beat by a simple runner directly down the middle and then watching that runner get involved in the attack shortly thereafter. Roldan struggled to find any kind of cohesion with the players around him and was in damage control mode for long stretches.
Cristian did have some nice defensive plays and matched Dallas well in both speed and physicality. A lot of his passes were safe, central passes and he didn't look forward with either passes or dribbles with any consistency. A highlight during a rough outing was in the 67th, after a Seattle attack, Roldan smartly stepped up high to instantly pressure Mauro Diaz and prevent a counter. It was a very nice read and reaction to a potentially dangerous situation.
However, the great interaction from Roldan and Alonso from a few games ago was nowhere in evidence. Even though the midfield enjoyed huge amounts of possession, Roldan was hesitant and unsure on where to be. I stopped counting the number of times Cristian was out of position, and while much credit goes to the opponents for great pressing and movement, this was a very rough outing for Roldan.
Erik Friberg - 7 | Community - 6.5
I was happy to see Erik go a full 90 minutes in Dallas, which bodes well for his fitness level, but after the half Dallas adjusted well to pack more players around Friberg and make him less successful.
Friberg started out the game with a bang, placing a perfect through ball to Gomez in the first minute that changed the game. Unfortunately the change was a negative one for Seattle and instead of being up a goal, the Sounders let down after this miss and immediately conceded. What was special about this play was Erik peeking up before he controlled the ball and spotting the opportunity to go vertical. His one touch pass was perfectly times and weighted. Friberg kept at it, and in the 19th chased down a ball in the corner that looked to be heading out and instead placed a sublime cross directly onto the noggin of Morris. Alas, instead of having 2 assists in twenty minutes Friberg (and the Sounders) had nothing.
Erik put Gomez through again in the 24th and in the 57th showed off just how great his first touch is, one-timing a ball through to Jones. He has exceptional first-time control and pace on his passes.
The Swede had a long cross over everyone in the 13th and forced a few passes looking for guys to run on, but there wasn't a ton on the negative side for Erik. With 2 defensive minded mids behind him his workload on that end of the field was limited, but the bunker and counter from Dallas really put a damper on Friberg's ability to find gaps in their defense. With Alonso pulled back to cover for a struggling Roldan, Friberg was forced to float to wide areas to look for space. This condensed the open spaces, and the forwards struggled to adjust by making runs that the Sounder attacking mid could pick out.
Herculez Gomez - 4 | Community - 5.0 (off 66')
I was severely underwhelmed with the play of Gomez this week. After a very smart run to open the game he took an odd angle at goal and missed a golden opportunity to demoralize a tired team by scoring in the first minute. This is the 5th or so great chance he has had this year and I am no longer cutting him any slack for "getting there". He failed to shoot until there was a bad angle and he let his decent first touch run wide, further complicating things. There needs to be a payoff to this work. It is not acceptable for players to set you up and you consistently fail to make the keeper save anything.
In the 46th minute there was a good far-post service but that was it for positive marks, which is amazing since the guy went a perfect 23/23 passing. Unfortunately, most of these passes were not even remotely dangerous. I did note a ton of negative plays, such as failing to challenge for a ball in the 15th and being offside to kill an attack soon thereafter. In the 27th he was just standing on the 18 and watching, a huge issue for a team that is desperately missing off ball movement. I counted 5 vertical runs that received passes and he didn't manage to get on the end of a single one. In the 44th he tried to add some holdup play to bring in the offense but lost possession.
Herculez put in some effort and supported the defensive effort, but I rarely saw him as an available option going forward. This is a problem for a player expected to be part of the attack. He may be starting at this point as a default, but I don't see much to support this continuing if someone like Ivanschitz is ready to go.
Clint Dempsey - 6 | Community - 5.4
I think Clint was pushing too hard in this one, attempting to carry the team on his back. While he managed a few great plays, he often found himself on an island against Dallas. Without special players around him (or even any teammate at times) he struggled more than usual and lost possession when attacking.
Dempsey started out with a beautiful outside of the foot flick to Friberg in the 1st minute, which beat four defenders and started Gomez's great chance. In the 16th minute Clint drew multiple defenders and passed a perfect through ball to the overlapping run of Jones, and again the Sounders came up empty on a great chance.
Throughout the game Dempsey was swarmed with defenders, and at times was able to flick the ball to a teammate or earn a free kick for his troubles. Unfortunately, other times the numbers were too much and he would lose possession trying to force an attack into multiple defenders. This happened in the 7th, 41st, 46th, 65th, and 89th. That is simply too many times to directly take on players, but an added frustration is that many times it was only Morris, or only Friberg who were even an option to pass to. Without movement and support from teammates, Clint chose to attack instead of perhaps more prudently to hold the ball up for more help to arrive. If he is going to do this, he simply can't give up possession so often. I think he really missed a guy like Nelson Haedo Valdez who's consistent and thoughtful movement opens up options and space. When Gomez, Morris, and Dempsey are up top and not moving constructively, attacks die quickly.
Jordan Morris - 5 | Community - 5.7
Wish that fancy rookie everyone was talking about would have gone to the Dallas game. The recently confident, direct, downhill running, zone 14 camping player was left behind and replaced by the early season version of Morris who was tentative and at times simply lost. Jordan looked to take a step back with tactical awareness and this slowed down his entire reading of the game state.
Unable to get free of the Dallas defense for vertical runs, Morris again showed that he and Mears on the same side of the field is kind of a disaster. For a team attempting a whopping 589 passes, only 8 of these were between Jordan and Tyrone (compare to 34 between Evans and Alonso for example) None of his touches attacked towards the goal; most were either back or square - a problem for a guy being asked to play on the wing. In the 52nd he got in the way of a nice Dempsey/Friberg exchange and didn't seem to be on the same page from the outside whatsoever, being bypassed in both directions. He kept at it though and was a diligent worker on the wing helping to limit the effectiveness of Castillo. I noted a few times that he was making very strong runs but not receiving the ball from Mears or Roldan. I would like to see this young player get more touches.
Jordan did have a golden chance to break the rookie consecutive goals mark in the 19th minute, finding himself in the middle of the box and rising powerfully to meet an excellent Friberg header; unfortunately, he put it right at Seitz. This is the third or fourth header this year that he's attempted but hasn't been able to finish. I hope he is getting extra practice on these, as he looks to be a dominant jumper and tracks the ball well.
I was disappointed to see him quit on defense in the 62nd minute, watching as Carlos Gruezo walked into the Sounders box. More disappointing was that he again quit and looked defeated in the 83rd, this time after losing the ball on an attempted holdup play. The frustration was apparent for Jordan, who hopefully learned from this and will work hard to better integrate into the attack next time. Finding him a place on the field where he is most comfortable looks to be essential to his success.
Andreas Ivanschitz - 7 | Community - 5.6 (on 66')
Andreas was strong in this game, and he immediately offered some width from a player not starting at fullback. His first touch netted him a dangerous set piece, and he followed that with a nice defensive play in the 69th to win the ball and start a counter. Soon thereafter Dempsey found him floating up the left wing and Andreas had a good look at a shot he's scored from for Seattle before; unfortunately, it was right at the keeper. After winning another free kick in the 84th, Andreas dialed up the head of Marshall with a perfect left footed ball that the Sounders defender just missed putting on frame. This was a nice outing for Andreas and I look forward to seeing him and his creativity on the field for more time this weekend.
Oalex Anderson - 4 | Community - 4.8 (on 77')
Anderson did little in his short stint and he looked lost on where to be and how to integrate into the team. After a brief moment of clarity with a give and go a minute after entering, he punted a cross into the stands. Another poor pass and a lack of coherent movement finished out my notes on Anderson.
Sub 3 - Not used
Well there is an indictment of our depth if I ever saw one. I don't disagree with not using our third sub as long as guys still had enough wind. If someone was tiring, maybe Remick was an option but that is about it. The absence of Valdez and failure of anyone else to make a credible case for minutes makes for a short bench.
Ricardo Salazar - 7 | Community - 5.0
It pains me to give this guy an above average score. I just haven't liked him, ever since he hosed my team in Portland and then I saw him drinking beers with Portland fans after the game. I have to be honest here, though: he did a very good job in this one.
Any penalty is debatable, and there are plenty of MLS refs who wouldn't have called the PK, whether because it wasn't enough contact, because it was too early in the game, or just not being in position to see it. Unfortunately for the visiting team, Ricardo was in good position and made a good call. You just can't pull a guy's jersey there especially if he isn't doing the same. That being said, Salazar was still positively eager to call it and is an annoying twit with the amount of zeal he uses when signaling a PK, pointing to the spot before the play was even over.
He called Gruezo for hacking Dempsey in the 13th and ignored a 50th minute Akindele dive vs. Marshall. Salazar did a pretty good job of controlling the game, although I thought Zach Lloyd deserved a yellow for a 45th minute cynical tactical foul. There were a few late plays that I thought the crew missed, a deflection that went out and was awarded a goal kick instead of a Sounders corner being the most egregious. Any time AI is on the field it hurts double to lose out on a set piece. Andreas was also called offside mysteriously, ostensibly for coming from an off position but it was hard to tell.
FC DALLAS MOTM:
Forty-five percent of readers who voted (193 responses) chose playmaker Mauro Diaz as the best player on the day for FC Dallas.
This was another very frustrating road game. I feel like the staff is trying many different looks, but with the personnel changing every week there is a severe lack of continuity from game to game. Players like Morris and Roldan are really struggling to adapt to new and fluid roles, and the team completely lacks the ability to adjust week to week. Against a team like Dallas that was content to wait for a turnover and spring pressure on them, the Sounders had no answer. It is startling to have a complete lack of identity this far into the season. Now we welcome the current shield leaders, the revitalized Colorado Rapids into Century Link this weekend. This will either be really fantastic or really awful, depending on which Sounders team decides to show up. Let's hope it's the former.